Posted by Graeme Chesney
At short notice, Graeme Bremner filled the role of Guest Speaker informing and entertaining an average attendance of members, today 7 March. The Bremners are back in Dunedin again, but for a short time only, while their new house is built in Botswana. Graeme previously held positions with The University of Otago latterly as a Forensic Scientist in Animal Health while Gillian (member of Rotary Club of Dunedin 1998 -2018) was head of Presbyterian Support.

Graeme, now Associate Professor, on the academic staff of the University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland (UBBS) heads up the Forensic Science Department and recently had the pleasure of seeing the first group of students graduate with a degree in Forensic Science, a four year course. His wide ranging address, illustrated with statistics and photographs gave us an overview of this interesting county. Blessed with an almost complete absence of all the vices encountered in most African countries, Botswana still has a high crime rate by our standards. But the predominant crime is theft of a cattle beast, or two. There, cattle have value measured in greatly inflated terms than here. Something the peoples of this ethnically diverse nation all understand and appreciate. But in this previously British Protectorate, the law and the administration of law is complicated as there are three sources of Common Law, viz. English Common Law, Dutch Common Law and Customary Law and a large proportion of the offences are heard and judged by Tribal Councils under Customary Law. 

Interestingly, when the university was first proposed in 1982, Botswana’s President, of the time, used the innovative funding model of 1 man/1 beast. And it worked. Graeme’s photo appeared on screen displaying an impressive structure, the main building of the University, complete with tower/minaret. But his comment told all when he said I won’t show you the Prefabs, behind. But why be ashamed? Who amongst us wasn’t educated, for the odd year or so, in a prefab, which mysteriously appeared in the college grounds overnight? 


To even mention a bride-to-be is one side of a commercial transaction will raise the ire of some readers and to further mention the quantum which is demanded, and paid, will merely exacerbate my woes. But I hasten to add many men go without wives. Others steal (not the girl silly! The cattle/the currency). 


Botswana is a friendly place with an excellent health system. While statistically it has a low population density, the massive Kalahri Desert accounts for much of the land mass, thus distorting that figure. 


Like New Zealand’s, is Botswana’s rising road toll. But unlike here they run into wild animals, in the night and kill themselves. 


President Lisa thanked Graeme and wished both he and Gillian well, a motion we all heartily endorsed.